The New Finance of Longevity

Retirement Catch 22, Struggling To Save

Just 26% of Americans near or at retirement age have enough saved for retirement

A new U.S. retirement survey released by Schroders shows that saving for the future was a top priority during pandemic lockdowns.

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–According to the new U.S. Retirement Survey released today by Schroders, saving for the future is among the top three activities Americans have devoted more attention to since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis that began over a year ago.

The heightened focus on saving for the future is encouraging, but it isn’t easy: More than one-third of respondents (38%) reported saving less money since the start of the COVID crisis. However, 43% said their savings rate was unchanged and 19% said they are saving more.

The activities Americans have focused more on during the crisis include:

  • Health and fitness (53%)
  • Spending time with family (52%)
  • Saving for the future (39%)
  • What to watch on Netflix and other streaming services (38%)
  • Planning to enjoy life more/bucket list (36%)
  • Developing a financial plan/strategy (29%)
  • Investment portfolio (26%)

Further, respondents have devoted more of their attention toward deciding what to watch on Netflix and other streaming services during the pandemic than on their investment portfolio or developing a financial plan/strategy.

Should Planning Be A Higher Priority?

Asked how they felt about the amount of retirement planning they’ve done, just 27% of non-retired respondents said “very good” and they were “fully on track.”

Worse, only 18% of non-retired respondents near or at retirement age (60-67 years old) said the same – which might be why only 26% of non-retired respondents in this age range said they have enough money saved for retirement, while fully 60% said they do not have enough saved, and 14% did not know if their savings was adequate.

The majority (62%) of all working respondents plan to keep working in retirement for a number of reasons, including:

  • To stay busy (57%)
  • Because I enjoy working (56%)
  • To cover my basic living expenses (53%)

Retirement Asset Allocation: Cash and Confused

The lack of certainty in their planning may be affecting how respondents are managing and monitoring their retirement assets, as even younger investors have an abundance of cash and less in equities than older investors…

How Assets Earmarked for Retirement Are Allocated

Ages 45-59

Non-retired near retirement: age 60-67

Equities: 30%

Equities: 35%

Cash: 27%

Cash: 25%

Fixed income: 17%

Fixed income: 23%

Target date: 15%

Target date: 9%

Other: 11%

Other: 8%

Almost half (49%) of all respondents said they had no idea how their assets for retirement were allocated, including 59% of women and 51% of non-retired investors between the ages of 60-67.

“The good news is people are focused on saving for the future even during COVID. But the question remains, ‘Will they have enough for retirement?’ The way to improve retirement readiness is through better knowledge, guidance and investment choices,” said Joel Schiffman, Head of Intermediary Distribution, North America, Schroders. “Not knowing how your assets are allocated, or holding one-quarter or more of your retirement savings in cash, indicate there may be a need for a greater understanding of how a diversified portfolio could maximize growth while managing risk.”

Why Is Planning So Hard? The Catch-22

What makes it so hard to properly plan for retirement? Respondents universally shared three primary barriers:

  • I don’t have enough saved yet to plan for retirement – 70%
  • I have other financial priorities that are more important right now – 60%
  • The future is too uncertain to plan for – 50%

“It’s a Catch-22 situation. Investors need a plan to generate enough assets for retirement, but they don’t think they have enough assets to justify a plan,” said Mr. Schiffman. “Planning doesn’t require a lot of assets; it starts with setting a goal and saving toward it by taking advantage of an employer’s defined contribution plan or opening an investment account or IRA. Every dollar saved and invested is a step closer toward being able to generate sustainable income in retirement.”

It’s a Catch-22 situation. Investors need a plan to generate enough assets for retirement, but they don’t think they have enough assets to justify a plan...

What issues are people concerned about regarding retirement? Retired/non-retired pick the same top five:

  • Higher healthcare costs than expected – 81%/89%
  • Health issues draining my savings – 76%/81%
  • A major market downturn significantly reducing my assets – 72%/81%
  • Not being able to afford the lifestyle I desire – 67%/80%
  • Not knowing how to best generate income and/or draw down my assets – 66%/80%

The End Result: Not A Perfect Picture

Asked to describe their financial situation, only 4% of respondents already in retirement said they were “living the dream,” and 42% said they were comfortable. However, the majority (54%) of retirees were not as fortunate, as 36% said they were “not great but not bad,” and 18% said they were struggling.

Notably, one-third (33%) of respondents already in retirement said their expenses were higher than expected, including 10% who said, “a lot higher.”




About the Survey
The Schroders U.S. Retirement survey was conducted by 8 Acre Perspective nationwide among 1,000 U.S. consumers ages 45 –75 from January 20— 27, 2021. Respondents were fairly evenly split by age and gender; age: 45-59 (367), 60-69 (348), and 70+ (285); male (501), female (499).